Monday, May 20, 2019

Teen brain development

According to a new study, one in 4 Americans is a teenager or young adult, and the period represents some of the greatest peril and promise of their lives. Supports or inequities in adolescence are particularly likely to "get under the skin" of adolescents developing who they will be as adults. Emerging research identified adolescence and young adulthood—the period roughly from ages 10 to 24—as a second "critical window" of brain development after the early years. During this time, students become better at social learning, pattern recognition, and more responsive to changes in school and academic climates. Teenagers have been found to gain or lose as many as 20 IQ points during this period, making testing potentially less valid at the exact time it is used for critical decisions about their educational trajectory. Math or reading gender gaps can close or even flip. Teenagers' brain malleability, the research committee found, means that interventions during secondary school can help students overcome trauma or adversity in their early life. But adolescents also become increasingly aware of and damaged by bias, stereotypes, and institutional or social inequities, the report found, which can create "missed opportunities" for learning and becoming more resilient. Instructional interventions considered effective with younger students can suddenly backfire, and adolescents also have the greatest risk for developing mental illnesses or becoming involved in the justice system. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Technology’s Impact on Education – Digital Learning Tools in Classes

Education Week released a special report investigating the impact technology is having in K-12 schools as digital learning tools flood classrooms across the country. The report reveals that technology is failing to reach its full potential in K-12 schools, despite the rapid infusion of new devices and technologies into the classroom. Further, disparities in technology access and adoption, and in the ways new tools are integrated into instruction, may be fueling a new digital divide that threatens to exacerbate long-standing inequities and separate education’s haves and have-nots along new fault lines.  

Herold, B. (2017). Technology counts 2017: Classroom tech: Where schools stand. Bethesda, MD: Education Week.

Gender Differences in Writing and Reading

As early as the 4th grade, girls perform better than boys on standardized tests in reading and writing, and as they get older that achievement gap widens even more, according to one study. While the tests showed that girls, in general, scored significantly higher than boys in both reading and writing in the fourth grade, that gap widened further in eighth and 12th grades, and the difference was far more substantial for writing than it was for reading. The authors offered several theories to explain the findings. For instance, boys are statistically more likely to have a learning disability and they may also face peer pressure to conform to masculine norms, which could cause them not to make reading a priority.

Reilly, D., Neumann, D. L., & Andrews, G. (2018). Gender differences in reading and writing achievement: Evidence from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). American Psychologist.

Effects of Apps on Learning

According to a report by Brightbytes, a median of 30 percent of the ed-tech licenses purchased by K-12 districts–as tracked through a proprietary platform–are never used. And a median of 97.6 ed-tech licenses are never used “intensively”. A team of leading researchers and analysts explored data from the BrightBytes Learning Outcomes module to determine the range of cost per license for purchased apps, the degree purchased apps are being used, and the level of effectiveness apps have for math, science, and ELA. The results of this research show which apps are having a positive impact on student learning, and the environments in which this work is successful.

Baker, R. S., & Gowda, S. M. (2018). Highlights from the Brightbytes’ 2018 Annual Insights Report: Towards understanding app effectiveness and cost. San Francisco, CA: Brightbytes.